The oceans occupy two-thirds of our planet, so it is sometimes difficult to decide what part of the globe we might cruise in. If it will be your first cruise, then perhaps one of the more popular areas might be in order. The Caribbean is very popular year-round, so are Hawaii and the Panama Canal. If you are thinking of a cruise in the non-winter months, then much of our planet can be considered.
Alaska is always popular during the summer, as are the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Baltic, the Greek Islands, Turkey and more.
Today, I will outline a few cruises I think you might consider for the summer and fall this year.
On the domestic front two new Mississippi paddle wheelers will ply the river year-round. They are American Cruise Lines’ new Queen of the Mississippi, which begins cruising in August. It will carry some 250 passengers in outside cabins. Some have private balconies. All are fairly large and the dining and entertainment will be all American. The décor will feel old south. Some cruises will be themed; there will be the Mark Twain Tribute and another will focus on the Civil War.
The other Mississippi paddle wheeler, Grand American Queen, began in April. It has been recently purchased by the Great American Steamboat Company and completely redone. Some of the cabins have been enlarged and the interiors redecorated. This boat holds some 400 guests.
Both are American flagged, with American crews and officers. The fares are not inexpensive because the crews are American, but both companies guarantee a deluxe product.
American Cruise Lines also has several small and modern passenger boats that cruise protected seawaters, mostly on the East Coast. Obtain a brochure and examine their offerings by calling (203) 468-5700.
Contact the Great American Steamboat Company at 1-888-749-5280.
Perhaps you have seen movies where the passengers dress in formal wear most evenings while at sea and you think you would like to give this a try.
The Cunard Line would perhaps be your first choice. They employ three large and very modern ocean liners: the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. All three are plush and carry on the old traditions of the Cunard Line and its White Star Service. There are nightly formal dinners and dancing, along with selected entertainment in a formal theatre with royal boxes to rent. The stateroom you book determines the dining room in which you take your meals. The fancier the accommodations, the better the dining room.
Cunard travels the transatlantic route with the Queen Mary 2, while the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth offer traditional cruising.
Cunard Line also offers two round-the-world cruises departing in January of each year and lasting more than 100 days each. Phone 1-800-7-CUNARD (28-6273) for more information.
Disney Cruise Line is expanding. Over the years it has built a fine reputation for pleasing passengers of all ages. It now offers the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wonder and Disney Magic. The ships are luxurious, with great crews. Disney cruises to the Bahamas, Canada and New England, the Western and Eastern Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska and along the West Coast.
On some cruises you dine in a different dining room each night, but have the same wait staff. There are areas for different children’s age groups, teens and adults. You come together for meals. Learn more from your travel agent.
Some smaller cruise lines to consider: Voyages to Antiquity with the Aegean Odyssey, an 11,000-gross-ton ship purchased a few years ago and completely redone with larger cabins, some with balconies; modern, well-done interiors. This cruise line’s specialty is cruising the Mediterranean, Greek Islands and Turkey. The line includes all shore excursions, wine with dinner and guest speakers that talk about the sights to be seen ashore in regard to history, religion, etc. This type of all-inclusive, educational cruising is gaining popularity. A brochure is available by calling 1-877-398-1460.
In this same specialty vain, Voyages of Discovery will have a newer ship called the Voyager available in November and it will circumnavigate South America next winter for 126 days.
As with their other ship, the Discovery, the Voyager will have guest speakers to talk on various subjects during the long cruise.
I have had the pleasure of sailing in the 650-passenger Discovery several times and the cruises remain some of the best in my experience. The ship cruises the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Black Sea this summer. The Voyager will carry 500 passengers. For more information phone 1-866-623-2689.
Voyages of Discovery’s sister company is Swan Hellenic which offers the new Minerva. It will carry 350 passengers in English luxury. The ship calls at interesting ports, some of which larger ships cannot dock at. Again, guest speakers will give passengers complete information regarding the countries and areas the ship is calling at. At Swan Hellenic Cruises, all shore excursions, drinks and tipping are included in the fare.
This summer the Minerva will cruise the Greek Isles, Turkey, Montenegro and Italy. Phone 1-866-923-9182 for details.
If you may wish for a longer stay in a foreign country, perhaps you should investigate swapping your home with foreigners. Today, some people exchange homes for half a year. Several companies handle these arrangements. Among them are: Homeexchange.com, located in Hermosa Beach, Calif., 1-800-877-8723, offering 41,000 listings in 146 countries. Annual membership is $119.40; Homelink International in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. has listings in 75 countries, visit Homelink.org or phone 1-800-638-3841. Annual membership is $119; Intervac International in Tiburon, Calif., visit Intervac-homeexchange.com or call 1-800-756-4663, it offers listings in 60 countries. Annual membership is $99.